The way we act in a situation like that is significant. And we can actually apply it as a technique to improve our social skills.
All of us, at some point, has been in an embarrassing moment. We’ve all gotten unexpected criticism or been drawn into a conflict we didn’t want any part of.
The good news is we can use something we’re going to call the “fog layer technique.” If we do, we’ll be able to come out of all these situations unhurt.
The Importance of Giving Ourselves Time to React
The fog layer technique urges us to stop. To slow down the emotions we’re feeling. Because they push us to react impulsively to anything that isn’t exactly going our way.
For example, say someone criticizes us unexpectedly. We might feel angry and tempted to react in a way we don’t actually want to react.
Humiliating, embarrassing, or conflicting situations can bring out a side of us we think we can’t control, not easily. A side of ourselves that wants to protect us.
This is true whether it’s it’s something we see as an attack, or maybe someone calling us out. They’re thoughts like “they’re judging me,” or “they don’t value me,” or even “they want to humiliate me.” They’ll elicit a reaction based on our nerves and our on-edge emotions.
But what happens when we stop letting emotions take total control over our actions? Well, afterwards we pull our hair because our emotions have produced impulses and in hindsight we would’ve done things differently.
With the fog layer technique, we will become aware of how important it is to slow ourselves down. At least until we can see the situation more clearly.
It will also help us observe our emotions. If we do that, we’ll be able to process their energy and message in the most favorable way. Thus our social skills will get better, and we won’t have to constantly apologize for what we did or said.
We Don’t Have to React Immediately
There is one especially treacherous temptation. It’s the temptation to immediately react to whatever has caught us off guard. That “whatever” could be a conflict or criticism, for example.
Oftentimes, we don’t give ourselves time, and don’t use the fog layer technique. It’s like something inside us is yelling “you can’t wait.” We listen to it and talk, argue, disagree, or justify ourselves.
In today’s world, most of these kinds of “surprises” come in social contexts, not any immediate life-or-death threat. In other words, it’s very unusual for us to run into a lion as we’re walking down the street. Now that might really need a quick reaction on our part.
To say it another way, most of the time we have enough time to let the emotional cloud dissipate. Then and only then can we give a more appropriate response, one that won’t harm us in the long run.
The Fog Layer Technique: An Example
Here’s an example of the fog layer technique put into practice. Say our friend throws in our face the fact that we can’t always hang out with them. This might be due to work or other obligations.
But using the technique, we wouldn’t argue. We wouldn’t retort that they aren’t always there for us either (loudly, with a visibly annoyed and negative tone).
That would be the instinctive, emotional reaction, to put it one way. But, with the fog layer technique, the way we approach it would probably be very different.
When our friend makes that accusation, we would slow down our impulses. Then, we would tell them “I understand that you’re mad because you think I’m never there for you.”
We’re not saying we agree, but we’re sending a message to our friend. We understand what they think is happening, which will at least calm us both down.
It will give us time to reflect on the situation and talk about the issue when no one is mad or annoyed. That way we can make our friend understand that not hanging out all the time isn’t the same as never. And that they are an important part of our lives, even if we also have work and other responsibilities.
As we’ve seen, the fog layer technique is one we should all use to improve our social skills. At least in situations that might harm us the most eventually.
Try it and see how effective it is. See how good it is at helping you connect in a healthier way. And, ultimately, how it helps you process your own emotions better.